ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Video of U.S. President Donald Trump saying he had a hand in the latest Nobel Peace Prize has gone viral in Ethiopia after Trump asserted that he had “made a deal” to save the country.
The comments during a rally in the U.S. on Thursday don’t mention the East African country by name, but Trump says: “I made a deal, I saved a country, and I just heard the head of that country is now getting the Nobel Peace Prize for saving the country. … Did I have something to do with it? Yeah. But that’s the way it is.”
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed accepted the prize in December for making peace with longtime rival Eritrea and other reforms. Abiy’s office did not comment Friday.
Trump almost never comments on Africa, and some critics have said his administration has neglected African issues.
Many Ethiopians were puzzled by Trump’s remarks. Some said his talk of a deal must have referred to the new peace with Eritrea.
But one senior Ethiopian official told The Associated Press the remarks referred to preventing further tensions between Ethiopia and Egypt over a massive dam that Ethiopia is completing on the Nile river. Egypt says the dam threatens its water supply. Ethiopia says it’s needed for development.
Ministers from the countries, plus Sudan, are expected to meet in Washington on Monday to report on the failure of their latest round of talks.
“He was talking about Egypt and Ethiopia,” the official with Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media on the matter.
The official asserted that Egypt’s president lobbied Trump over the disputed dam project, leading to the U.S. taking a role in the discussions.
“President Trump really believes he avoided a war as such … but that was not the case,” the official said.